Toeing the Tree Line
Apr 28, 2013 | 356 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Before leaving the subject of Tree Line USA, a distinction which Cleveland Utilities has earned for the 13th consecutive year, it is important that area residents understand how the initiative benefits the utility companies, the communities and the homeowners.

We touched on the subject in our editorial in Friday’s edition, but the focus then was to help area residents understand tree-planting decisions made today will greatly impact decisions made years down the road when tree-trimming crews come calling to free power lines from the grasp of entangling limbs.

Much of the buzz by overhead chainsaw crews — in this case, Asplundh, which is the CU tree service contractor — can be avoided by planting the right tree in the right place.

As pointed out in Friday’s edition, planting oversized gifts of Mother Earth like oaks, maples and an array of others underneath power lines, or in too close proximity, is a bad idea. No doubt, these are among nature’s most gorgeous trees — especially in the autumn season — but their vibrant canopies are doomed to a duel with chainsaws several years down the road if placed without thought to the future.

But, these reminders we addressed Friday.

How about the benefits of Tree Line USA, a program born from a partnership between the Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters?

Benefits for utility companies include:

1. Lower line clearance costs resulting from proper pruning.

2. Improved rights-of-way management as a result of “right tree, right place” plantings.

3. Increased public exposure by meeting Tree Line USA requirements, resulting in community tree planting and public education.

4. Lower peak energy demand through increased canopy and better placement of trees.

5. Increased reliability of service because properly pruned and maintained trees with healthy root systems will mean less decay and structural weakness, and fewer downed lines during storms.

6. Collaborative urban forest management opportunities between the utility and other groups that impact community trees.

7. More trees will help absorb carbon dioxide produced by power plants that burn fossil fuels.

Benefits for communities include:

1. Healthier and more abundant community forests.

2. Reduce tree mortality resulting from proper pruning and trenching or tunneling practices.

3. Increased reliability of service because properly pruned and maintained trees result in fewer downed lines during storms.

4. Reduced energy costs to consumers through strategically planted trees for energy conservation and a broader urban forest canopy.

5. Reduced heat island effect as a result of more shaded pavement.

Benefits for homeowners include:

1. Less heartbreak in years to come when trimming crews are forced to cut overreaching limbs away from power lines.

2. Less cost if the homeowner chooses to have the newly trimmed (some call it “mugged”) tree taken down entirely and the stump ground away from view.

3. Can partner with the utility, the contractor or even the urban forester, to get information first hand about which trees to plant, and not to plant, and where. Seeking their advice is not intended as a form of arboriculture censorship; its design is to prevent inevitable homeowner frustration.

We are reminded of the Fram brand slogan, “You can pay me now, or pay me later.” Failure to pay a little for changing oil and oil filters now could mean paying a lot down the road for major engine repair.

The principal is the same with trees. Close attention to “right tree, right place” can help prevent “disfigured canopy, ugly space.”

Such selectivity can also avert front-yard feuds between alarmed homeowners and tree-trimming crews, the latter of whom are just doing their jobs, while doing them with very large, and very sharp, chainsaws.